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February 20, 2005
Marines To Retake Ramadi

Reuters reports this morning that Marines intend on clearing out Ramadi, one of the last cities still controlled by Islamofascist terrorists in Iraq and presumed to be a source of the latest round of terror attacks:

U.S. forces launched a major security operation around Ramadi on Sunday, saying they hoped to restore order to a western Iraqi city which has been in rebel hands for much of the past year.

Troops from the 1st Marine expeditionary force, backed up by Iraqi security forces, imposed an 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew in and around the city, 110 km (70 miles) west of Baghdad, as part of what has been dubbed Operation River Blitz.

The operation "is designed to target insurgents and terrorists who have attempted to destabilize the Anbar province by terrorizing the populace through wanton acts of violence and intimidation," the U.S. military said in a statement.

So far, from the data in this report, the operation appears preliminary. The Marines have imposed a curfew and have sealed off the town, but still are allowing inspected traffic to flow in and out of the town. The Marines will conduct recon-in-force patrols throughout the city and conduct some hard searches where intelligence directs them, and since the terrorists up until yesterday walked around openly with their weapons, they shouldn't be all that difficult to find, at least at first.

The operation name implies, however, that the US sees the mission as similar to the one which pacified Fallujah and crushed the network of terrorists in the so-called City of Mosques, the one that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had bragged would never fall to the US. The operation also has a wider scope than Ramadi. It centers on the well-known hub of terror operations but includes a number of towns on the Euphrates, casting a wide net and preventing any easy avenues of escape.

Either way, the delay in dealing with Ramadi has been unfortunate, although understandable. In November, the decision had to be made between Fallujah and Ramadi, as the American forces in the area and the Iraqi security troops did not have time to do both properly. Fallujah was the right choice, strategically if not tactically, as it sent them message that the joint US/Iraqi forces had no fear of taking on the most redoubtable of the terrorist strongholds, and could reduce them to oblivion within hours if we so chose. It established for the first time some measure of credibility for the Iraqi forces, after a debacle of desertions during the Najaf operation, and demonstrated to the Iraqis that they did not have to live under the thumb of Zarqawi and his band of bloodthirsty lunatics.

Reuters and others will focus on the role of the Marine Corps at first, but expect to hear more about the Iraqi security forces as this operation continues. I predict that a significant portion of the fighting will come from their special-ops groups under close support from the Marines. Success in Ramadi will breed confidence for the Iraqi forces and more success for the Iraqi people in throwing off the yoke of oppression in these hotbeds of Islamofascist terror.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 20, 2005 6:30 AM

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